Footsteps Turning into Energy?

PAVEGEN MODULEEver wondered your footsteps produce mechanical energy, from footfalls to climbing stairs to merely walking? Indeed. Considering the amount of kinetic energy produced in an average metro station at rush hour, the dance floors of night clubs, charging phones, etc., transforming human activity into electricity or energy is logical.

In 1880, brothers Jacques and Pierre Curie discovered the piezoelectric effect, according to which, placing crystals under pressure produces an electric charge. This 130-year-old technology would transform this discovery into action. Today, Pavegen, a company that developed power-generating systems for pavements, football fields and even school corridors has made the manufacturing technology possible to place the piezoelectric devices in the most unlikely places.

Pavegen CEO Laurence Kemball-Cook states, “People walk up to 150 million footsteps in their lifetime, When I was walking through a busy train station in London I thought what if we can convert the energy from every single person walking at the station into a meaningful amount of power." The company’s technology is a deflecting pad, which can produce up to 7 watts of energy with each step. This pad is covered with soft ground surface most commonly found in playgrounds. Most effective in areas with high traffic, Kempball finds it sufficient to power lights and other small devices from a mere hundred or so footsteps, thereby matching the supply with demand.

For instance, the company created the world’s first ever people-powered football pitch in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by installing around 200 kinetic tiles into a local football pitch in Morro da Mineira. The tiles work day and night alongside the solar panels to power the lights for up to 10 hours on a full battery. Kempball further stated, “It's not only a way of inspiring future generations into energy savings but it shows we need different energy mixes," Kemball-Cook said. "Some people walk 40,000 steps a day, so there's a lot of potential in those wasted footsteps. Most people go to a gym so why are we plugging in those treadmills? Why not have those self-powered to charge your cellphone? To power the aircon in the building? Use the energy in a new way?"

The energy-harvesting technology has even been developed for miniature applications such as the self-powered contact lenses, which use blinking as their power source. According to the analysts, the energy harvesting industry could be estimated as much as $30 billion this year.

Image source - Pavegen.